In 1971, the Bolton Report described the UK small firm sector as "extremely large and remarkably heterogeneous". Fast forward to 2019 and it seems this description is still as relevant as it was nearly 50 years ago. However, the 1971 Report also described the SME sector as being "in jeopardy" and forecast a decline in the market. With nearly 5.7m SMEs operating in the UK, comprising 99.9% of all businesses, it seems fair to say this prediction has not been realised.
However, the profile of the SME has changed significantly, as has the external environment it operates within. The 1970s was a world without internet; the UK was joining rather than leaving the EU, and the right to request flexible working was still thirty years in the future. The modern SME has had to adapt to such changes, which have inevitably brought opportunities, risks and challenges.
This content examines some of the key issues impacting the modern SME.
• The rise of ‘artisan’.
• Legislation and regulation.
• Culture and working practices.
• The SME of the future.